Ballot Question WC-2: An Answer To An Aging Population

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At present we're paying a four percent government service tax on our vehicles.

WC 2 asks the voters if it should be raised another percentage point to the maximum of five percent.

The extra revenue could be used to fund pubic safety or roads, but the impetus behind this question, the reason it's on the ballot, is to better fund the county's senior services.

The Senior Center on East 9th serves thousands each day, not only with hot lunches and recreation, but things like meals on wheels for shut-ins, day care for Alzheimer's patients and legal assistance.

Like all county services it's seen some budget cuts in recent years, but this proposed tax increase is about more than restoring those cuts. It's really about planning for our aging population which is about to see the arrival of thousands of baby boomers.

" Our population is getting older," says Senior Services Director Grady Tarbutton. "The people that are 60 years and over are 16 to 17 percent of the population," . "By 2020 they will be 22 percent of the population.

So, in the years ahead, this 34 year old Senior Center on East Ninth Street and the services it generates will have thousands more clients and Tarbutton says will need a new, additional revenue source.

Some may question the wisdom of raising a tax in the current economic climate.
Tarbutton would argue investing in senior services actually makes economic sense.

"The services we provide can support families, keeping people at home, keeping people independent. It helps the families stay intact, it protects their resources and it helps the taxpayer."

Opponents point out there's nothing in the question that binds county government to actually spend the extra revenue on specific services and that's true.

WC-2 is advisory only. Local governments are asking for an opinion. If the voters say yes believing the extra revenue would be spent on these services, they'd be justified in holding their elected officials to that promise.

Advocates, specifically those for the senior center, say when those decisions are being made, they will be at the meeting making sure that happens.

By the way, how much it would cost the average person depends on the original price of the car and how old it is.

County officials tell us they're comfortable with a figure of $43 dollars per vehicle per year for the average resident.